Going into the day we knew two things - one, that we wanted to connect with our community and two, we wanted to give some rad haircuts.
Our number one goal with this project is to help people feel valued and acknowledged.
Tuesday, 7/16 our day started early with meeting Boyd Huppert and his crew at Steller Hair Co. We had the chance to show them around the salon, and then took them up to our Steller Connect space which is where the red bags were getting assembled!
After having Katie’s Nissan rigged with GoPro’s and microphones, we packed up the red chair, hair tools and red gift bags and began our behind the scenes adventure.
We sang some carpool karaoke and drove around in search of people asking for support from their community.
Our first stop was back to see our longtime friend, Edward. Edward has been in need of a pair of tennis shoes for quite some time. He had been wearing his heavy duty winter boots throughout the hot summer and the 93 degree weather was not ideal in winter boots. As we pulled up, Edward was beaming. He was so happy to see us and get another haircut as well as receive the new sneakers.
When we asked Edward how long he thought he'd be out that day, he responded with “I’m bringing my son to lunch at McDonalds, so I need to make $15 more”.
We decided to help expedite that process, and circled back around with a McDonalds giftcard. Edward is a red chair recipient that we see frequently so getting to brighten his day means the world to us.
After reconnecting with Edward we were off to continue our red chair day with Kare 11. We often have people decline haircuts, but that doesn't stop us from saying “hi”, asking them their name, and giving them one of the red bags filled with essentials (toothbrushes, hygiene products, snacks, socks, etc..).
The next person who opted in for a haircut was someone who was signing over by the Washington Ave off-ramp in downtown Minneapolis.
His name was Justin.
Justin is originally from California, and has a love for music. While cutting his hair and giving him a Mohawk multiple people stopped to say hello.
Justin enjoys the acknowledgment and was grateful for the cool new hair. He was surprised when we brought the red chair to him and gave him a haircut. Normally he would cut his own hair, so to have a mobile salon come to him was “something special.”
After cutting Justin’s hair we drove around some more, which is when we met sweet Silvia off of east Franklin ave.
Silvia had not received a professional haircut in 31 years! She was so happy that we were willing to bring the chair to her. She laughed as she saw us throw on the hazard lights and hopped out of the car to grab the chair and bring it to her.
After looking through multiple photos she settled on a new do that was a great fit for her bright personality. Silvia explained to us how she is signing to find a better life for herself and her son. This project isn't to only about haircuts, it is also an opportunity for us to hear about the incredibly painful living circumstances for so many in our communities, and hopefully be a part of making the big changes that need to happen.
Sylvia shared about the constant fear she has for her loved ones, and that she wishes her people had a “safe place to sleep”. Her positive outlook was truly inspiring. She reminisced about her dancing days and wearing beads around her ankles and the intricate costumes she got to wear. Silvia is a staple part of the community and connected with many individuals throughout our time cutting her hair. When we grabbed the mirror to show her the new hair she instantly started smiling. It was beautiful to watch how something as simple as a haircut brought her so much joy.
Regardless of people watching, the Red Chair Project would exist. It was humbling to have Boyd, and the Kare 11 team, document the unconventional way we have found to connect with our community. This experience has proven to be a bigger gift than we could have ever expected.